Famous 19th Century Historians

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Historians, including H. G. Wells, Friedrich Hayek, Alexis de Tocqueville, Stefan Zweig and Alfred Thayer Mahan.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century Historians

 1 

Leopold von Ranke
4
Birthdate: December 21, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wiehe, Roßleben-Wiehe, Germany
Died: May 23, 1886

Leopold von Ranke was a German historian who had a major influence on Western historiography. A respected historian, Ranke is credited with founding modern source-based history. When he was ennobled in 1865, honors poured in from several historians and scholars across the world.

 2 
Max Weber
(Sociologist)

Max Weber
4
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

 3 
Walter Scott
(Novelist and Poet known for his Works Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and The Lady of the Lake)

Walter Scott
4
Birthdate: August 15, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: September 21, 1832

Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and playwright. Scott's ability as a writer and his knowledge of history made him a pioneering figure in the formation of the historical novel genre. An influential writer, many of his works remain classics of Scottish as well as English-language literature. Scott was admired by other prominent writers like Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

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 4 
E. H. Carr
(Historian, Journalist, Diplomat, Writer, Political scientist, Professor)

E. H. Carr
4
Birthdate: June 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: November 3, 1982

Best known for his 14-volume book A History of Soviet Russia, British historian and diplomat E. H. Carr had been part of the Foreign Office for a long time, before stepping into the academic world. He had also been an assistant editor of The Times and a fellow of both Oxford and Cambridge.

 5 
Alexis de Tocqueville
(Historian Known for His Works 'Democracy in America' & 'The Old Regime' & 'The Revolution')

Alexis de Tocqueville
4
Birthdate: July 29, 1805
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 16, 1859

French diplomat and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville is best remembered for his written works The Old Regime and the Revolution and Democracy in America. He was part of French politics, primarily during the July Monarchy and the Second Republic. He had been the minister of foreign affairs briefly.

 6 
Jacob Burckhardt
(Former Historian whose best known work is The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860))

Jacob Burckhardt
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: August 8, 1897

Swiss cultural historian and historiographer Jacob Burckhardt is best remembered for his work on the history of Italian Renaissance, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien. Born to a Protestant clergyman, he initially studied theology but later switched to history. He was associated with the University of Basel for most of his life.

 7 
Henry Cabot Lodge
(United States Senator from Massachusetts (1893-1924))

Henry Cabot Lodge
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beverly, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 9, 1924
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 8 
Jules Michelet
(Former French nationalist historian best known for his monumental Histoire de France (1833–67))

Jules Michelet
3
Birthdate: August 21, 1798
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 9, 1874

Jules Michelet was a French author and historian best remembered for his work on the history and culture of France. Jules Michelet is credited with defining the term renaissance, which was originally used by Italian historian and painter Giorgio Vasari in 1550. The term is currently used to identify the period that followed the Middle Ages in Europe's cultural history.

 9 
Oswald Spengler
(Historian, Philosopher)

Oswald Spengler
4
Birthdate: May 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blankenburg, Germany
Died: May 8, 1936

German historian Oswald Spengler is best remembered for his iconic The Decline of the West, which had a huge influence on social theory. He believed that culture cannot be transferred and that it can only decline and decay like an organism. He lived his final years in isolation in Munich.

 10 

Thomas Babington Macaulay
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: December 28, 1859

A prominent Whig and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay is best remembered for his 5-volume History of England. Though a qualified lawyer, he never took it up as a career. As part of his administrative work in India later, he introduced English as the chief medium of instruction in schools.

 11 
George Washington Williams
(Soldier, Historian, Diplomat, Writer, Minister, Politician, Journalist)

George Washington Williams
4
Birthdate: October 16, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bedford
Died: August 2, 1891

A laborer’s son, George Washington Williams had been a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War, when he was barely 14. He had then been a Baptist minister, a politician, a lecturer, a lawyer, and a journalist, but is best remembered for being the first to write about Black history.

 12 
Archibald Gracie IV
(Historian, Writer, Investor)

Archibald Gracie IV
4
Birthdate: January 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama, United States
Died: December 4, 1912

Best known as the author of The Truth About The Titanic (currently Titanic: A Survivor's Story), Archibald Gracie IV was one of the few who survived the sinking of RMS Titanic. Beginning his career as colonel of the 7th New York Militia, he later became a real estate agent, concurrently carrying out researches on history, particularly the Battle of Chickamauga.

François-René de Chateaubriand
4
Birthdate: September 4, 1768
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 4, 1848

François-René de Chateaubriand was a French writer, diplomat, historian, and politician. Chateaubriand had a major influence on 19th-century French literature. François-René de Chateaubriand is also remembered for defending the Catholic faith by writing The Genius of Christianity when most intellectuals were turning against the Church. Chateaubriand was a food enthusiast; it is believed that Chateaubriand steak is named after him.

 14 
Karl Polanyi
(Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist)

Karl Polanyi
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 15 
Henry Adams
(Historian Known for His Work 'The History of the United States of America 1801–1817')

Henry Adams
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1838
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 27, 1918

Historian Henry Adams was part of the famous Adams political family of the U.S and a typical Boston Brahmin elite. His best-known work remains his posthumously published autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, which won a Pulitzer Prize. He also taught medieval history at Harvard.

 16 
Gustave Le Bon
(Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist)

Gustave Le Bon
4
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogent-le-Rotrou
Died: December 13, 1931

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work La psychologie des foules, or The Crowd, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

 17 
Lewis Mumford
(Architect, Historian of technology, Historian, Sociologist, Screenwriter, Literary critic, Philosopher, Journalist)

Lewis Mumford
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 26, 1990

Lewis Mumford was an American sociologist, historian, literary critic, and philosopher of technology. He made significant contributions to American literary and cultural history, social philosophy, and the history of technology. His works also influenced a number of thinkers and authors like Jacques Ellul and Amory Lovins. Lewis Mumford also had a strong influence on American cellular biologist Barry Commoner.

 18 
Frederick Jackson Turner
(Historian, Writer)

Frederick Jackson Turner
4
Birthdate: November 14, 1861
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portage
Died: March 14, 1932

Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian who was closely associated with the University of Wisconsin as well as Harvard University. Turner is credited with training and mentoring several PhDs who went on to become respected historians in their own right. Best remembered for his Frontier Thesis, Frederick Jackson Turner had a strong influence on historians, novelists, and filmmakers.

 19 
Lothrop Stoddard
(Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Author, Journalist, Opinion journalist)

Lothrop Stoddard
4
Birthdate: June 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brookline
Died: May 1, 1950

Twentieth-century American political scientist and historian Lothrop Stoddard was a Ku Klux Klan and believed in eugenics, a theory that promoted the superiority certain races based on genetics. His book The Revolt Against Civilization introduced neo-Nazi concepts. He also covered World War II as a journalist.

 20 
James George Frazer
(Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer)

James George Frazer
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1854
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 7, 1941
British anthropologist James George Frazer is best known for his book The Golden Bough, which details his study of ancient cults and myths. He also taught social anthropology at Cambridge. He was also knighted for his achievements and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 21 
G. M. Trevelyan
(Historian)

G. M. Trevelyan
3
Birthdate: February 16, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwickshire, England
Died: July 21, 1962

 22 
Henri Pirenne
(medievalist, historian, university teacher)

Henri Pirenne
3
Birthdate: December 23, 1862
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Verviers
Died: October 25, 1935

Charles Francis Adams Sr.
3
Birthdate: August 18, 1807
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 21, 1886

Charles Francis Adams Sr. was an American writer, historical editor, diplomat, and politician. He played a key role during the American Civil War, serving as the US Minister to the UK under Abraham Lincoln; he used his diplomacy to not recognize the Confederacy and keep the British government neutral. He is credited with building Adams National Historical Park.

 24 
Georges Sorel
(Social Thinker, Political Theorist & Historian Known for His Advocacy of 'Sorelianism')

Georges Sorel
3
Birthdate: November 2, 1847
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cherbourg, France
Died: August 29, 1922

Georges Sorel was a French political theorist, social thinker, journalist, and historian. He is credited with inspiring Sorelianism, a support system for his ideologies. Georges Sorel is also credited with inspiring several socialists, Fascists, Marxists, and anarchists. In 1891, Georges Sorel was honored with the prestigious Légion d'honneur.

 25 

B. H. Liddell Hart
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 29, 1970

Also known as Captain B. H., soldier and historian B. H. Liddell Hart is best remembered for his research on military theory and his book Strategy. He was against frontal attack as a war strategy. He had also been part of the Battle of the Somme and was later knighted.

 26 
Charles A. Beard
(Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher)

Charles A. Beard
4
Birthdate: November 27, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knightstown
Died: September 1, 1948

Charles A. Beard was an American historian who served as a professor at Columbia University. Beard is credited with writing several influential books, such as An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States which played a crucial role in helping him attain an iconic status within the progressive school of historical interpretation.

 27 
Johan Huizinga
(Cultural historian, Historian, University teacher, Philosopher)

Johan Huizinga
3
Birthdate: December 7, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Groningen
Died: February 1, 1945

Best known for his The Waning of the Middle Ages, Dutch historian Johan Huizinga is considered one of the pioneers of modern cultural history. Apart from teaching history, he had also taught Indian literature and was once detained by the Nazis for his criticism of fascism.

 28 
R. G. Collingwood
(Philosopher)

R. G. Collingwood
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cartmel Fell, England
Died: January 9, 1943

 29 
Naim Frasheri
(Historian)

Naim Frasheri
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fraşer, Yanya Eyalet, Ottoman Empire (now Frashër, Albania)
Died: October 20, 1900

 30 
Lord Acton
(Historian, Member of Parliament for Bridgnorth (1865-66))

Lord Acton
4
Birthdate: January 10, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: June 19, 1902

Lord Acton was an English Catholic historian, writer, and politician. Born to a prominent family in Naples, he was the son of a British baronet. He studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he developed a deep love of historical research. After building a career as a historian and writer, he ventured into politics as well. 

 31 
Wilhelm Dilthey
(Philosopher Known for the Way He Distinguished Between the Natural and Human Sciences)

Wilhelm Dilthey
3
Birthdate: November 19, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: October 1, 1911

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.

 32 

Ōkawa Shūmei
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yamagata, Japan
Died: December 24, 1957

 33 
Theodor Mommsen
(Classicist who was widely considered one of the world's foremost authorities Roman civilizations)

Theodor Mommsen
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1817
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Garding, Germany
Died: November 1, 1903

One of the most influential 19th-century classicists, Theodor Mommsen donned many hats and was at the same time a historian, a philologist, a legal scholar, and an archaeologist. His legendary A History of Rome won him a Nobel Prize in Literature. He had also fathered 16 children.

 34 
Prosper Mérimée
(Former writer in the movement of Romanticism, and one of the pioneers of the novella, a short novel or long short story)

Prosper Mérimée
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 23, 1870

Prosper Mérimée was a French writer and one of the pioneers of narrative prose, which came to be known as a novella. A multi-talented personality, Mérimée was also a historian and archaeologist; he played a key role in the development of the process of architectural preservation. He was responsible for safeguarding several historic sites, such as the Cité de Carcassonne. 

 35 
Karl Pearson
(Mathematician, Historian of mathematics, Statistician, Historian, Philosopher, Biographer)

Karl Pearson
4
Birthdate: March 27, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: April 27, 1936

One of the greatest statisticians of all time, Karl Pearson established the first university-level statistics department at UCL and also launched the statistics-oriented journal Biometrika. He was also well-versed in law and believed in eugenics. His The Grammar of Science later inspired Albert Einstein and other scientists.

 36 
Lucien Febvre
(Historian)

Lucien Febvre
3
Birthdate: July 22, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nancy, France
Died: September 11, 1956

Lucien Febvre was a French historian best remembered for playing a major role in the formation of the influential Annales School of history. Along with his friend and colleague Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre founded a scholarly journal named Annales in 1929, which became associated with their distinctive style of history.

 37 
Mahadev Govind Ranade
(Judge, Social Reformer)

Mahadev Govind Ranade
4
Birthdate: January 18, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Niphad
Died: January 16, 1901

Mahadev Govind Ranade was an Indian social reformer, scholar, author, and judge. Ranade is credited with co-founding the Indian National Congress as well as founding several organizations like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Widow Marriage Association, and Vaktruttvottejak Sabha. He also contributed as an editor of a nationalist publication named Induprakash.

 38 
Liang Qichao
(Historian)

Liang Qichao
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1873
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Xinhui, China
Died: January 19, 1929

Chinese scholar Liang Qichao had fled to Japan after the Hundred Days' Reform was halted. He returned to China after a 14-year exile, with the formation of the Republic of China. He later served as a professor. He is remembered for his Chinese translations of Western and Japanese books.

 39 

Sir Leslie Stephen
3
Birthdate: November 28, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kensington Gore, London, United Kingdom
Died: February 22, 1904

Sir Leslie Stephen was an English historian, biographer, author, critic, and mountaineer. Leslie Stephen also took an active part in the organized humanist movement, serving as the president of the West London Ethical Society on multiple occasions. He was the father of famous author, Virginia Woolf, and painter, Vanessa Bell.

 40 
Bruno Bauer
(Philosopher, Theologian, Historian)

Bruno Bauer
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eisenberg, Germany
Died: April 13, 1882

German philosopher Bruno Bauer is best remembered as a student of legendary German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel. Part of the group of intellectuals known as Young Hegelians, he was also a staunch Rationalist. He not only questioned the origin of Christ but was also accused of anti-semitism.

 41 
James Truslow Adams
(Historian of the modern age, Historian, Biographer)

James Truslow Adams
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: May 18, 1949

 42 
Louis Blanc
(Former socialist who favored reforms, he called for the creation of cooperatives in order to guarantee employment for the urban poor)

Louis Blanc
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: December 6, 1882

French socialist and politician Louis Blanc is best remembered for supporting the formation of "social workshops" led by workers. He initially studied law, before he started writing for journals and then eventually launched his own newspaper, Revue du progress, which published his most notable work L’Organisation du travail.

 43 
Thomas Arnold
(Educator)

Thomas Arnold
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1795
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: East Cowes, England
Died: June 12, 1842

 44 
George Bancroft
(Diplomat, Historian of the modern age, Historian, Academic, Writer, Politician)

George Bancroft
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1800
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Worcester
Died: January 17, 1891

 45 
Nicolae Iorga
(Politician)

Nicolae Iorga
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Botoșani, Romania
Died: November 27, 1940

 46 
Joseph Jacobs
(Literary critic, Literary historian, Folklorist, Historian, Children's writer)

Joseph Jacobs
3
Birthdate: August 29, 1854
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sydney
Died: January 30, 1916

Joseph Jacobs was an Australian literary critic, folklorist, social scientist, translator, writer, and historian. A notable publisher of English folklore, Jacobs' work is credited with popularizing some of the most renowned versions of English fairy tales like Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk. Jacobs was widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on English folklore.

 47 
Hippolyte Taine
(Critic, Historian)

Hippolyte Taine
3
Birthdate: April 21, 1828
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vouziers, France
Died: March 5, 1893

Hippolyte Taine was a French critic and historian who was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism. One of the first practitioners of historicist criticism, he was also a major proponent of sociological positivism and made attempts to provide a scientific account of literature. He had a special relationship with novelist Émile Zola and corresponded with the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. 

 48 

Giovanni Schiaparelli
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Savigliano, Italy
Died: July 4, 1910

Giovanni Schiaparelli made headlines when he discovered the canals of Mars, suggesting the existence of intelligent life forms on the planet. He also discovered the asteroid named Hesperia and was associated with the Brera Observatory in Milan for more than 40 years. He had also been a senator of Italy.

 49 
Mildred Harnack
(Literary historian)

Mildred Harnack
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 16, 1943

 50 

Jeanne Modigliani
3
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: July 27, 1984

Jeanne Modigliani was an Italian-French Jewish art historian. She was the daughter of artists Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hébuterne. She lost both her parents as a small child and was adopted by her aunt. She conducted extensive biographical research on her father years after his death and published the book Modigliani: Man and Myth.